Friday, April 25, 2008

Babylon Babylon, Room for Cream, crooked, Top Girls - Theaterorama

Had a big theater-going week. I caught the opening night of Babylon Babylon at the Brick last Friday. Then on Saturday I caught a double feature, hitting the Theatre of Two-Headed Calf's Dyke Division serial Room for Cream at LaMama Etc. in the afternoon and The Women's Project's crooked by Catherine Trieschmann that night. Then last night, I caught a preview of Caryl Churchill's Top Girls at MTC's Biltmore Theater.

Babylon Babylon. This is perhaps the best concept for a theater piece I have seen since attending a storefront production of Mary Zimmerman's Arabian Nights 13 years ago in Chicago. Author/director/performer Jeff Lewonczyk gets high points for scope of vision and audacity with this. The action follows a group of townswomen in Babylon who prostitute themselves at the temple of Ishtar on the eve of Babylon's fall to the Persian army. The tone is largely comic, although some serious and mythic notes creep into the script. The costumes and set have a delightful thrift-store pagentry to them and the 30+ member cast is gorgeously committed and adorably enthusiastic about their roles. It runs a bit long (2 hours 15 minutes with no intermission on the night I went), and there is some uneveness in the script-- but there is a lot to enjoy about this quirky and unlikely assemblage. I loved Hope Cartelli as the priestess to Ishtar, Mike Criscuolo as a hapless prince of Babylon, Iracel Rivero as a simple country girl, Robin Reed's rich snotty lady, Melina Gac-Artigas as a serene and reluctant virgin and Kamran Khan as both a beggar and a rich slaver. Amantha May's choreography was also stand-out and bewitching (I went to college with her, many, many years ago).

Room for Cream. RfC is an on-going lesbian supernatural soap opera that plays to sell-out crowds at LaMama each week. Each Saturday brings a new script, fully produced and memorized by an eclectic cast and weekly guest star. I caught episode #8, Chaotica by Laura Stinger. This was all the campy, sexy, silly fun you could expect. Becca Blackwell as Dire Owens was wonderfully authentic and comic and script was imaginative and outrageous. At only 8 bucks is it a theatrical bargain-shopper's paradise, too. I hear that tickets tend to sellout as soon as they go on sale on Sundays, though.

crooked. I thought this Catherine Trieschmann script at the Women's Project was truly outstanding. Definitely a not-to-miss experience for playwrights. The begining is a little soft and some staging issues interfere with what should have been a powerhouse ending-- but the dramatic engine and the complex, layered meat of this script is enthralling. I was thinking about this one for days after I saw it. The relationships are intricate and involving in a messy, organic way that is very hard to capture on stage. The cast (Betsy Aidern, Carmen M. Herlihy, and especially Cristin Milioti) was absolutely perfect. Direction (Liz Diamond) was wonderful throughout, until we hit the ending, which lost a lot of its impact because focus was drawn away from the strongest visual moment and boldest choice in the script. But, I walked out deeply satisfied. Two of the playwrights I play wisth every week at Flux Theater Ensemble's weekly Flux Sunday development workshop, Katie Marks (who has the misfortune of seeing me bumble my way as an actor through her delightful comedy Birdhouse at Flux) and Erin Taylor (whose excellent play Narrator One is getting a reading at Flux soon!). That was cool, to see some of my favorite women playwrights out supporting a woman playwright.

Top Girls. What an amazing experience to sit in the audience at MTC's previews, a couple rows away from Caryl Churchill, watching the Broadway debut of her classic and moving play Top Girls. I saw Chris Shinn there and he said outside the theater after the show, "they just don't make them like that anymore." This script shows up the banal, slick, and superficial gloss that modern playwrights feel compelled to cover their scripts with. There is a rough, organic, and beautifully unfinished poetry to this play that really sings forth in this production. The acting is already wonderful and seems to poised to grow as the play opens next week. It's true that some of the dialects are uneven-- but that is my only minor acting quibble. The delightful surprise of Martha Plimpton as 15-year-old Angie, Marisa Tomei's chameleon-like transformation into her mother Joyce, Elizabeth Marvel's tour de force Marlene, and Mary Catherine Garrison's astonishing turns as Kit and Shona are stand-outs in a tremendous ensemble show. The design is compellingly abstract, the costumes are a joy, and this is a production that grows on you as the night progresses. Highly recommended-- get tickets now.

Am off tomorrow night to see Mary Fengar Gail's The Judas Tree. Might sneak in a show tonight, too.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Untitled Mars and The NYTR Book Launch

Caught Untitled Mars by Jay Scheib at PS 122 last week. It is a sci/fi tech romp based heavily on Philip K. Dick's Martian Time-Slip. In fact, it is pretty much a straight adaptation of Martian Time-Slip, with a few interviews with current Martian colony experts on the science of Mars colonization inserted and some intriguing staging.

I thought the cast was top-notch. Tanya Sevaratnam (Jackie) really pulled me in and made me feel like I was watching a real person. The staging is very reminiscent of Ivo van Hove's Misanthrope at NYTW last year-- with cameras and big screens and backstage moments. Not a device that does a whole lot for me, but people who dug Misanthrope should also like this. I liked the real science tidbits the best. I was happiest in the moments where I felt like I had accidentally intruded on an MIT lecture on the probability of Martian colonization. That was all fascinating. It is a good show for a techno-geek or Philip K.-fanatic.

On Friday, I caught the New York Theatre Review book launch at the Drama Bookstore. They presented an excerpt from Tommy Smith's play White Hot that was one of the funniest and most engaging scenes I have seen in a long time. I was really bummed to have missed the production last year! Maybe it'll come back with the Fringe Fest or something. Also a fascinating essay from Victoria Linchong about the early history of and demise of the Cafe Cino in Greenwich in the 1960s. I finished reading that essay on the subway ride home from the launch and loved it. Lots of strong stuff this year!

In other news, the Maieutics Theatre Works' production of Sans Merci is cast and rehearsals should begin in a few weeks. I am not sure if actresses have been notified/accepted yet-- so no hints. Except the cast rocks and I expect miracles. I am frantically rewriting Godsbreath and 8 Little Antichrists simultaneously. Which will undoubtedly lead to my antichrist puppets raising game cocks and a procreationist multi-birth breeder vats with uterine simulant technology appearing in the Godsbreath cemetery. Which, hmmmm, might not be such a bad thing.

Planning to check out Babylon Babylon at the Brick on Friday. Am very excited about a play about temple slaves. How did they know about me and temple slaves?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Flux Theatre Ensemble's Spring Benefit on Monday April 14th

I will be at Flux's benefit on Monday April 14th for their spring production of Midsummer. And my lovely publisher, Mr. Jason Aaron Goldberg of Original Works Publishing, has graciously donated copies of my plays COCKFIGHTERS and THE SACRED GEOMETRY OF S&M PORN for the silent auction part of the benefit-- along with a selection of other great titles from OWP (he didn't tell me what other scripts he gave Flux, so you will have to come see).

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”A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Benefit Party
April 14th, 2008

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6:30pm to 10:30pm (arrive anytime)
The White Rabbit
145 E Houston St., NY, NY 10002 US
Door Price: $15
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We are delighted to invite you to our Benefit Party for our production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” held at the White Rabbit. There will be drink specials, light hors d’oeuvres and a Raffle at the end of the night with excellent prizes. If you are unable to attend, but would still like to participate in our raffle, please go to our blog where you can view the prizes and buy your raffle tickets. More information can be found HERE.
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All of the money raised will go directly to supporting our production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. We hope to see you there!

And check out the great raffle prixes up for grabs HERE.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Artwork for Maieutic Theatre Works Production of Sans Merci


Coming to the Roy Arias studios on 43rd and 8th in June.
Cool, huh? I can't wait to get postcards to push on people.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Congrats Christopher Shinn!


Shout out and congrats to playwright (and teacher of the EST summer conservatory workshop I did last summer) Christopher Shinn, who was a announced today as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize with his play Dying City. Way to go Chris!
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I also recently solved the mystery as to why the Union Square Barnes & Noble features Chris' play book prominently on a table in the drama section all year round and not just when he has plays running. Connor Ratliff, the B&N staffer who mans that part of the fiction section on weekend mornings, premiered the role of June in the Royal Court (London) production of Chris' play Four in 1998. And they are buds. How is that for theater-based, Nancy Drew-style investigative journalism? Connor is also a playwright and has a reading coming up this summer at Theater for a New City.
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Congrats also to Tracy Letts, winner of the Pulitzer for August: Osage County, and David Henry Hwang, finalist for Yellow Face. I don't know them, though.

Feed the Rude Guerilla

Just went to paypal and donated to help my friends at the spectacular Rude Guerilla Theatre Company. Hereby challenging anyone else interested in supporting exciting new work for the theatre to do the same.
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Dear Friend of the Rude Guerrilla Theater Company,

We appreciate your support over the past 11 years of our existence. However, ticket sales alone make up only a portion of Rude Guerrilla Theatre Company’s operating budget. In order to grow and to be able to continue providing socially-conscious, provocative theatre that matters, we need your help.


This year, we are establishing The Guerrilla Guild – an annual giving program that will provide you an opportunity to be an active partof what the Los Angeles Times calls “…Orange County’s most daring ensemble”. By being part of the Guerrilla Guild each year, you will:

• Help us bring new and exciting theatre experiences to Orange County. We offer varied and innovative, thoughtprovoking
material, presented in new and daring stagings.
• Participate in promoting local artistic activities. We are gaining a solid reputation for providing cost-conscious access to the arts, and bringing theatre to those who may never have experienced it.
• Improve and expand our facilities and production capabilities, in order to provide even more exciting theatrical experiences. See the Wish List on our website for ways your contributions may be used.


As a Guerrilla Guild member:
• Your donations are tax-deductible. At the end of the year, you will receive a receipt for your total contributions to Rude Guerrilla, a 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation.
• You will receive complimentary tickets and other benefits (see our website).
• You will receive recognition in our program and on Rude Guerrilla’s website.
Guerrilla Guild members may donate funds from $100 up, but all contributions are truly appreciated. To join the Guild, go to our website (www.rudeguerrilla.org) and click on the Donation Page link and you may contribute via Paypal. We also accept donations via regular mail, by check or credit card (Visa/MC/Amex). All donors are free to change the level of their contribution, or to opt out altogether, as circumstances require.


Or click on the link below and make a donation today!

http://www.rudeguerrilla.org/GuildFolder/Guildinfo.html

We thank you for your support in the past and look forward to your continued generosity in the future.

Jay Fraley and Dave Barton
Artistic Directors
Rude Guerrilla Theater Company


Rude Guerrilla Theater Company is a non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.
Federal Tax ID # 33-0859205. California Organization # 2121428
Rude Guerrilla Theater Company
202 North Broadway, Santa Ana, California 92701 714-547-4688

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

New Headshots



Got new headshots this weekend with Jason Berger. He is the older brother of my Deloitte coworker Debra, so it was nice to get to meet him and shoot with him.
Wish we could have done more outdoor shots-- but it was too cold and windy. I like the graffiti shot, though. That will be my new business card. I have already ordered them from vistaprint.com.
We took about 760 photos in two hours. I have decided that surely there is a level of hell devoted to looking at over 700 photos of yourself at one time. Yuck! If I am ever feeling conceited and superior, I will just pull out that CD and make myself look at all of them again. But, I did like a handful, so it is worth it.